GEORGE TOWN: The public has been attracted to the ongoing military exercise between Malaysia’s paramilitary police unit, 69 Komando, and the US Army near the Penang Bridge.
A massive twin-engine tandem rotor military helicopter, believed to be a Boeing Chinook, has been flying low near the bridge to the surprise of motorists as the pilot put it through a set of daring manoeuvres, including flying low enough for soldiers in full battle gear to dive into the sea.
Wrapped in swirling clouds of aerosolised sea water, the aircraft also made landings on Gazumbo Island, the pair of man-made islands close to Penang Bridge.
State police chief Comm Datuk Wira Chuah Ghee Lye said the training exercise, code-named Balance Mint 17-2453, would be held until March 18.
“It is to provide exposure and skills training to strengthen VAT 69 for any battle in the water and coastal areas,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Comm Chuah said the training would strengthen ties between foreign special forces and the country’s elite police unit.
“The public will see military assets deployed at sea. We will ensure public safety and smooth traffic throughout the exercise,” he said.
The VAT 69 (Very Able Troops) was first modelled after the British Special Air Service Regiment, known worldwide as the SAS.
It began in 1969 when the nation was struggling against Communist and guerrilla armies. A team of SAS drill instructors trained the inaugural group.
According to file archives, 1,600 policemen applied to join VAT 69 but only 60 qualified and 30 passed.
The size of VAT 69 is a top secret.
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